The Guilty Party -
Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett Exposed? (part two)

Continued from this link

13th July 1999 - Extracts from document tabled in New South Wales Parliament in July 1999

None wanted to see any of us. Most seemed preoccupied with stopping publication of my book ( The Hoser Files), even though Kennett had previously promised a gathering of Liberal Party faithful that the book wouldn’t be banned. Anyway, why did Kennett want to see me? He had the media eating out of his hand and they were constantly pushing the crap that his government was looking after the taxi drivers. The closest he ever got to the taxi drivers in terms of meeting them seemed to be with the VTD officials, many of whom hadn’t even sat in a taxi for years.

Abridged version of Melbourne lawyer Nicola Gobbo's Statutory Declaration to the Federal Police after she agreed to speak with a man with access to Kennett’s and Costello’s office:

‘1. I make this declaration in the belief that it may assist the AFP in their investigation of the origins of the forged letters which were made public by the Treasurer, Mr. Willis, this week.

2. My belief, based on all the background and other circumstantial material set out below, and in particular my telephone conversation with ‘X’ last night 29 February, is that the originator of the documents in question is to have been ‘X’, who is I understand now employed both in the office of the Victorian Premier, Mr. Kennett (as part of the Research Unit), and – on a seconded part-time basis since around November last - on the staff of for Peter Costello, Deputy leader of the Opposition.

3. I first came to know ‘X’ in or around September 1992 ... when I was run on a ticket with three others for the position of editor of the student newspaper, ‘Farrago’. He was then a key figure in the Melbourne University Liberal Club, and I was clearly associated with the Australian Labor Party (as I am today …). Initially there was a great deal of animosity between us as a result of events during the ‘Farrago’ campaign, but ... we have developed … and maintained a friendly working relationship based on our joint interest in working on campus against elements of the extreme Left.

4. During that association, I had many opportunities to witness ‘X’’s style of political operation. He is an extremely smart and capable strategist, whom I know has been enthusiastically involved, in a student political context, in manufacturing misleading and deceptive material to serve the immediate objective of the day. I can recall for example, a specific occasion, when were trying to win the college’s vote for the September 1995 student union election, when I was actually typing from his dictation a fabricated campaign leaflet purporting to be from the ‘Zest’ Colleges group, apologizing for their criticism of our ‘Action’ ticket but actually being from our own Action group.

5. I first became aware of the forged letters affair after reading ‘The Age’ yesterday morning 29 February: I didn’t really focus on the question as to who might have been responsible until I had a call later that afternoon, around 5.30pm, from Michael Gadiel, National General Secretary during 1995 of the National Union of Students, based in Sydney, who I have known for approximately 18 months. He said that he had heard rumors from several, sources that the author of the forged letters may have, been ‘X’ and asked me ... did I, know anything, or could I do anything to check these rumors.

6. I succeeded in making telephone contact with ‘X’ after he returned home from having been with Mr. Costello that evening. I raised the question of the letters – saying something like “Congratulations ‘X’ that just had to be you …”. He said something like “Oh, come on …”, but then went on to say, at great length, - and with my encouragement all the way what a great stunt it had been, what a devastating impact it was, having on Labor’s campaign, and how “Costello couldn’t be happier”. 7. Our conversation on the letters issue occupied more than half of a total conversation lasting overall some 45 minutes. In the course of it, I can clearly’, recall ‘X’ making the following points, which I thought at the time, and still do think, point strongly to his authorship of the letters. The words in quotation marks are as close as I can recall to those actually spoken:
* “I am the logical suspect, because I work in both offices and have access, to the letterheads”.
* “The letters could only have come from Kennett’s private files or Willis’s. The person would have had to have access to the October 1995 letter either the original in Willis’s office or the photocopy in Kennett’s”.
* Referring to the ‘A Current Affair’ analysis of the signature overlay questions: “Anyone could have scanned it. I reckon it was a (computer) cut and paste, I’ve done plenty of that in my time.”
* In the context of a conversation about the letterhead on the Kennett letter being one that was out of date, he said something to the effect, that someone: had been “smart enough” to use the old letterhead.
* In the context of a reference in the conversation to the letterhead on the Costello office document, he said that Mr. Willis had been “stupid to accept it, as legitimate” because anyone could have forged it: “I could forge it easily using a Mac 16-point Palantino font.’

8. I can only recall one occasion throughout the entire conversation concerning the letters when ‘X’ specifically denied his personal responsibility. In response to me suggesting again, as I did several times, that he had been, responsible for a really clever scam he said something like, “No come on, it wasn’t me”’

Michelle Grattan of the Age summed up the situation saying,
‘Unless one thinks Mr. Willis’s staff are mad as well as bad, there is no motive for the forgery to come out of that office…anyway the point is: so far no logic or hard fact that has emerged publicly points to the Willis office. Unless something does, Mr. Kennett will have behaved very badly in making this claim at campaign’s end … The end of the Kennett story should be watched carefully and, if necessary, Mr. Kennett should be held to account for it.’

Three weeks later the Federal Police announced that they were winding up their investigations into the matter and that no one would be charged.

While talking political appointments, the Winneke family has done well out of the Kennett government. Sue Winneke was appointed by the Kennett government to the cushy highly-paid position of Chairman of the Casino and Gaming Authority.

While the government may attempt to argue that these appointments are solely on merit, to many other observers it seems that in Victoria the impression given is certainly that it’s not a case of what you know, but rather who.

Meanwhile I couldn’t delay the inevitable in another way and in mid 1996 had to take a demerit points licence suspension arising from the non-stop bookings Po-lice were doing against me the previous year. As I hitch-hiked around Melbourne (because I couldn’t legally drive) I recall one morning in particular. That was when I saw the news story about how Premier Jeff Kennett was caught doing 143 in a 100 zone and had kept his licence. So there you had it. One bloke who didn’t break the traffic laws and yet lost his licence and another who had and yet he kept it. It proved emphatically that the traffic laws system in Victoria is corrupt.
The prison opened on 1 February 1998. Amid much booing Jeff Kennett formally declared the place open. That evening’s TV news programs showed Kennett opening the place but they dutifully cut out footage of the protests directed at him.
Now that the Kennett government has been in power for nearly a decade, a sizeable proportion of the judiciary has been effectively stacked in their favor. The unsackable nature of the judiciary as a whole has prevented a total stacking of the legal system in their favor.

The previous Cain/Kirner Labor governments were similarly accused of stack-ing the judiciary in their favor. And for example, there’s little doubt that people like Felicity Hampel will get a judge’s position if and when the ALP get back into gov-ernment in Victoria as a return favor for the legal advice she regularly gives them on pressing political matters.

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